- The Utah Jazz and New Orleans Pelicans all kneeled for the national anthem before the first game of the NBA bubble.
- Players have wanted to keep the focus on social justice reform in the bubble and were planning gestures for the national anthem.
- The NBA has a rule requiring players to stand for the national anthem, and Commissioner Adam Silver said the league would “address” any kneeling when it occurred.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The Utah Jazz and New Orleans Pelicans kicked off the first game of the NBA bubble on Thursday by kneeling during the national anthem.
The gesture included every player and coach taking a knee around the “Black Lives Matter” text on the court. The teams’ plans to kneel were reported by The New York Times’ Marc Stein on Wednesday.
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) July 30, 2020
Here is another video of the moment, courtesy of ESPN’s Malika Andrews, who is in the bubble:
As the national anthem plays, the Pelicans and Jazz kneel around the “Black Lives Matter” signage on the court.
— Malika Andrews (@malika_andrews) July 30, 2020
The NBA has had a rule for decades that requires players to stand for the national anthem. However, the NBA hasn’t had to address the issue, as players never kneeled, even as NFL players kneeled during the anthem, led by Colin Kaepernick in 2016.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told “Good Morning America” on Wednesday that he supports “peaceful protest” and that the league would “address” the issue when it arises.
On Thursday, after the Pelicans and Jazz kneeled for the anthem, Silver said he would not enforce the rule.
“I respect our teams’ unified act of peaceful protest for social justice and under these unique circumstances will not enforce our long-standing rule requiring standing during the playing of our national anthem.”
In the Disney bubble, players have expressed a desire to keep the focus on the Black Lives Matter movement and social justice reform. In an effort to work with players, the NBA put “Black Lives Matter” on the courts and came up with several social justice-adjacent slogans to put on the back of jerseys. According to ESPN’s Malika Andrews and Marc J. Spears, the NBA also discussed playing “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” known as the Black national anthem, before games.
Players have also frequently mentioned Breonna Taylor’s name and case during media sessions in the bubble.
- Read more:
- NBA POWER RANKINGS: Where the 22 teams in the Disney bubble stand as the season resumes
- The highest-paid players in the NBA bubble
- MLS players are showing the rest of sports that a bubble can work. Two keys to success: nightly bingo and ’embracing the boredom.’
- The Tokyo Olympics were supposed to be this week. Here’s how 7 big names from Team USA are training and spending their free time.
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